While cable news outlets and major newspapers continue to use euphemisms such as "harsh interrogation tactics" to describe the Bush administration's approach to intelligence gathering, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) used a more succinct term Thursday: "torture."
"Last week, they released these memos outlining torture techniques. That was clearly a political decision and ignored the advice of their Director of National Intelligence and their CIA director," Boehner said at a press conference in the Capitol.
The techniques discussed include waterboarding, slamming detainees into walls, and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days.
Boehner argued that a discussion of such torture techniques was "inappropriate," as it could tip off U.S. enemies to the tactics used and "denigrate" the United States and its allies. Torture is illegal under U.S. and international law.
"This is another sideshow here in Washington," Boehner said about the ongoing discussion about torture. "When it comes to what our interrogation techniques are going to be or should be, I'm not going to disclose, nor should anyone have a conversation about what those techniques ought to be. It's inappropriate. All it does is give our enemies more information about us than they need."
Two reporters pressed Boehner about his assertion that the discussion wasn't appropriate. "Shouldn't the American public know what's being done in their name?" asked one. "Shouldn't they have an idea?"
Boehner paused. "Let me take a deep breath here," he said. "We're talking about terrorists who are hell bent on killing Americans. All right?"
"Alleged terrorists," noted the reporter.
"And 3,000 of our fellow citizens died. And there were techniques that were used by Americans and our allies around the world that helped keep America safe," Boehner said. "I'm not going to allow our professionals and our allies around the world to get denigrated because they were working to keep our country safe."
Regarding his use of the T-word, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel writes, "It is clear from the context that Boehner was simply using liberals' verbiage to describe these interrogation techniques. The United States does not torture."
Ryan Grim is the author of the forthcoming book This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America
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